When India began the fourth day’s proceedings in Centurion, their position was a two-edged sword for them. The ideal situation would have been getting all the remaining eight South African wickets by giving as much less runs as possible.

However, the task was not as easy as it seems even on a tough track which offered variable bounce. In case, India wanted to attack right from the outset, they would have ended up conceding too many, or if they wanted to defend, their hopes of levelling the series would have ended. India eventually took all the Proteas wickets by conceding 168 runs which saw them getting a stiff 287-run target on a misbehaving Centurion track.

Speaking after the day’s play, Mohammed Shami, India’s most successful bowler of the day, revealed India’s plan, stating the visitors wanted to keep the flow of runs under check. India’s ploy, however, did not work early on with AB de Villiers and Dean Elgar adding 54 runs in no time before Shami brought the visitors in the game by dismissing both of them and Quinton de Kock in quick succession.

“Today whole day we were looking to give away as few runs as possible,” Shami said. “As you have seen the wicket has been slow since the beginning, even on the first day you saw that it is going low continuously. And even today, it went slow and low, and you needed a lot of extra effort. We tried to give 110-120 percent. That was more important for us.”

Shami took four wickets in the innings (Credits: BCCI)

Despite being India’s most impressive bowler in the first over, Shami bowled just one over in the post-lunch session. After Tea, however, he went a step closer to taking a fifer after making Kagiso Rabada his fourth victim. But he was soon taken out of the attack, as skipper Virat Kohli wanted Ravichandran Ashwin to have a go at left-handed Morne Morkel.

“No, it depends on the captain when he wants to bowl you and when he wants to bowl which bowler,” he said. “It also depends on the conditions, suppose, I bowled before Lunch, so I couldn’t bowl immediately. So the captain is also thinking about the rotation. There are some stages in front of you that you want to bowl more but the captain thinks that we should get them out quickly. So you cannot mind that, but yes sometimes you do feel inside that maybe I could have got five wickets. But if you see from team’s point of view, you will not feel that way.”

Shami further expressed his surprise over the bounce on offer in Centurion, insisting that he “hadn’t seen such a slow and low bouncing wicket” outside India. Just one day ago, South Africa pacer Morne Morkel had also said the pitch had a hundred percent subcontinental feel to it.

“Didn’t expect that the ball would stay so low in this wicket. Till now in overseas conditions, we haven’t seen such slow and low keeping wickets. So I don’t know what they were thinking when they made this wicket. But okay, whatever it is we have to play on it, and the conditions are same for both teams. Tomorrow we will try to win,” Shami said.

Lungi Ngidi rocked India by dismissing KL Rahul and Kohli (Credits: BCCI)

Meanwhile, India have their back against the wall after being reduced to 26 for three with both of their openers and Kohli back in the pavilion. Cheteshwar Pujara and Parthiv Patel helped them finish the day on 35 for three.

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